Definition of cargo cult in English:

cargo cult


  • (in the Melanesian Islands) a system of belief based around the expected arrival of ancestral spirits in ships bringing cargoes of food and other goods.

    • ‘Early colonialist mentality labeled cargo cults and their participants as ‘mad’ and ‘hysterical’.’
    • ‘Masnick refers to Melanesian cargo cults as the actions and beliefs of people who were ‘a bit confused’ and who ‘never understood what was really happening.’’
    • ‘There is a lack of material related to missionary work, or cargo cults such as John Frum, still active on Tanna; and little explicitly national material.’
    • ‘These include cargo cults, which believe that wealth can be obtained through religious ceremonies.’
    • ‘He is the supposed messianic figure of the cargo cult, a white man in disguise (the title is ‘Kargo Kult Kulture’), a trader whose blank expression calmly signifies the done deal.’
    • ‘Sure enough, I am being told that while gravity does work everywhere, ‘some cultures created airplanes by using gravity creatively and other cultures created cargo cults when they saw their first airplanes.’’
    • ‘And yes, I do know about John Frum, cargo cults and all…’
    • ‘Far from being modernity, this sounds more like the cargo cults of the pacific islanders.’
    • ‘The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance.’
    • ‘As an anthropologist, however, Brunton's first research was a library-based study of Melanesian cargo cults and his doctoral thesis concerned kava drinking in a restricted location in far northern Australia.’
    • ‘By ‘cultic,’ I am referring to the vast literature on so-called cargo cults in Melanesia (Worsley 1957; Burridge 1960; Lawrence 1964; Williams 1976; Lattas 1998, to list a few).’
    • ‘Indeed, it is hard to imagine why such a movement should have been saddled with the ‘cult’ label, were it not for the fact that it occurred in Melanesia, well known for its many sensational cargo cults.’
    • ‘In the Lihir Islands, the discovery of gold was viewed by many local people as the fulfilment of prophecies made in the context of a cargo cult which had attracted numerous adherents during the previous decade.’
    • ‘I've read Richard Feynman's famous description of the cargo cults, of which here's a choice snippet.’